Saturday, March 8, 2014
Αύριο θα είναι μια δύσκολη ημέρα για την Εσθήρ Κοέν. Θα συναντηθεί με τον πρόεδρο της Γερμανίας Γιόακιμ Γκάουκ και κάθε άλλο παρά για ευχάριστα θέματα θα συζητήσουν. Η ενενηντάχρονη Στέλλα στα ελληνικά, Κοέν, είναι μία από τους δύο εν ζωή Εβραίους των Ιωαννίνων, από τους πενήντα περίπου που επέζησαν του Ολοκαυτώματος και επέστρεψαν από το Αουσβιτς. Και ο Γερμανός πρόεδρος ζήτησε να τη δει. Είναι άραγε ψυχολογικά έτοιμη αυτή η γυναίκα, να ανασύρει από την ομίχλη της λήθης (;) τον εφιάλτη; «Αισθάνομαι περίεργα. Είμαι ταραγμένη. Θέλω να τον ρωτήσω, πού βρέθηκε τόσο μίσος, για να κάψουν ζωντανούς εκατομμύρια ανθρώπους, επειδή έτυχε να έχουν διαφορετική θρησκεία; Πρέπει άραγε να δεχθώ τη συγγνώμη; Τίποτα δεν μπορεί να συγχωρέσει αυτό που μας έκαναν. Δεν απέμεινε συγγενής να με συνοδέψει όταν θα πεθάνω. Δεν άφησαν κανέναν, τους έκαψαν όλους», λέει. Η αφήγησή της είναι γροθιά στο στομάχι. Ο λόγος της φαρμάκι, όχι μόνο για τους ναζί, αλλά και για τους συντοπίτες της χριστιανούς: «Οταν μας έβγαζαν από τα σπίτια μας και μας έσερναν στους δρόμους για να μας πάνε στην Γερμανία, δεν τράβηξε κανένας γείτονας ούτε το κουρτινάκι για να δει τι γίνεται…», σημειώνει. Ξημερώματα 25ης Μαρτίου του 1944. Με μια καλά σχεδιασμένη επιχείρηση και με τη βοήθεια της ελληνικής χωροφυλακής, η Γκεστάπο «σκουπίζει» την εβραϊκή γειτονιά των Ιωαννίνων. Στοιβάζει σε φορτηγά, 1.725 άντρες, γυναίκες και παιδιά. Ελάχιστοι πρόλαβαν και διέφυγαν στο βουνό, όπου εντάχθηκαν στις ανταρτικές ομάδες, μεταξύ αυτών και ο μετέπειτα σύζυγος της Εσθήρ. Οι υπόλοιποι, μαζί και οι γονείς της δεκαεφτάχρονης τότε Εσθήρ και τα έξι αδέρφια της, πήραν τον δρόμο δίχως επιστροφή, με προορισμό το Αουσβιτς. Από το κρεματόριο θα επιστρέψουν λιγότεροι από πενήντα. «Είδα τελευταία φορά τους γονείς μου στη ράμπα στο Αουσβιτς, όπου μας χώρισαν. Θυμάμαι ότι καθώς απομακρύνονταν στην καρότσα ενός φορτηγού, φώναξε σε εμένα και την αδερφή μου: "Κορίτσια να διαφυλάξετε την τιμή σας". Μία μέρα που μας κούρευε μια αιχμάλωτη, με ρώτησε τι απέγιναν οι γονείς μου. Της απάντησα πως δεν γνωρίζω και εκείνη μου είπε δείχνοντας τις φλόγες που έβγαιναν από τα κρεματόρια: να, εκεί καίγονται...». Η Εσθήρ θα γλιτώσει από καθαρή τύχη, καθώς μια εβραϊκής καταγωγής Γερμανίδα γιατρός και κάποιες νοσηλεύτριες την έκρυψαν στο αναρρωτήριο όταν οι Ες Ες πήραν όλους τους υπόλοιπους από τον θάλαμό της και τους οδήγησαν στους φούρνους. Θα επιστρέψει μετά την απελευθέρωση και στο οικογενειακό προσκλητήριο θα δηλώσει παρούσα μόνη η αδερφή της! Οι άλλοι, είχαν εξοντωθεί όλοι. Φτάνοντας στα Γιάννενα θα πάει κατευθείαν στο σπίτι της και εκεί θα δεχθεί το άλλο φοβερό χτύπημα. Αυτή τη φορά όχι από τους ναζί ή τον capo του Αουσβιτς. «Χτύπησα την πόρτα και άνοιξε ένας άγνωστος. "Τι θέλετε", με ρώτησε; "Εδώ είναι το σπίτι μου", του είπα. "Θυμάσαι αν είχε φούρνο το σπίτι;", είπε. "Ναι, βέβαια ψήναμε το ψωμί και ωραίες πίτες", συνέχισα όλο χαρά. "Ε, λοιπόν, εξαφανίσου. Γλίτωσες από τους φούρνους στη Γερμανία, θα σε ψήσω εδώ στον φούρνο του σπιτιού σου", άκουσα με φρίκη να μου λέει».
Δεν μας αγάπησε κανένας Η Εσθήρ θα προσπαθήσει να φτιάξει τη ζωή της. Παντρεύτηκε τον Σαμουήλ, που κατέβηκε από το βουνό. Στη συνέχεια θα αρχίσει να αναζητάει τα κειμήλια και τα χρήσιμα εργαλεία για να επιβιώσει. «Εμαθα ότι τις δύο Singer ραπτομηχανές τις είχε πάρει ο μητροπολίτης. Πήγα και τις ζήτησα πίσω, αλλά μου είπαν ότι τις έδωσαν στη νομαρχία. Εκεί μου ζητούσαν τους αριθμούς πλαισίου των μηχανών μήπως και τις βρουν. Προφάσεις για να με ξεφορτωθούν. Σήκωσα το μπράτσο μου και τους έδειξα το ανεξίτηλο νούμερο από το Αουσβιτς. "Να, αυτόν τον αριθμό θυμάμαι εγώ", τους είπα και έφυγα...». Κατάφερε να ορθοποδήσει σε ένα περιβάλλον όχι ιδιαίτερα φιλικό. «Μια μέρα στα τέλη της δεκαετίας του ‘60, ένας καθηγητής θεολογίας στο γυμνάσιο αποκάλεσε "παλιοεβραία" την κόρη μου, επειδή τη συνάντησε στον δρόμο μαζί μου, περασμένες εννιά το βράδυ, κάτι που απαγορευόταν. Δεν άντεξε την προσβολή. Με το που τελείωσε η χρονιά, έφυγε στο Ισραήλ. Εκτοτε δεν επέστρεψε». «Σιωπήσατε πολλά χρόνια, γιατί;», την ρωτάω. «Γιατί φοβόμασταν. Δεν μας αγάπησε κανένας, το καταλαβαίνετε αυτό;», λέει δακρύζοντας.
“Pottery, at least as far as its purely physical composition is concerned, is of the stuff of many of the West’s religious and cultural founding myths. For thousands of years, intelligence and beauty have found form and taken shape in this melding together of earth and fire. After all, in the book of Genesis, isn’t it earth that constitutes the source code for the entire human race? Wasn’t it on the sixth day of Creation that God gathered up the dust in His hand and made man after His own image?
When we turn to the world of poetry and literature, it is of course Prometheus who is seen as the originator of the art of pottery. In order to give form to clay, you may not have to be a Titan, but you certainly need something of the Seer. Those who stick with it turn into, in Rimbaud’s words, a thief of fire. What’s more, Prometheus, (whose name means Foresight), created mankind from bits of mud that he turned into rock, before nabbing knowledge and learning from the great ones of Olympia. So, we’re all just fire and dust. Artists who master these elements are equally dedicated to contributing to the work in progress that is humanity. They task themselves with the job of bringing into the world forms and concepts that were hitherto lacking. The first fire-based art form, indeed, perhaps the first art form full stop, is the process by which creation gives ever-growing life to creation.
This is how we can best understand Tout feu Tout flamme - art that is about the very spirit of exhilaration that has its being in art itself, with artistic convention being smoked out and destroyed, no matter where it tries to hide. First into the flames are desires, wings and eyes. Here, raw art is a dish best eaten cooked. Hereby, the young artists, who as makers of ceramics share a common bond, take their place in a pseudo-mythological story, each having their own reasons for doing so. Their ceramic artworks, regardless of their exact composition, have seemingly just emerged from the primeval earth. The very fact of bringing them into the open, into the light, might seem enough to seal their fate – to be turned into museum pieces - at least as a protection against their supposed fragility. This, however, is where we would be wrong: to choose pottery is to accept the scorched earth school of art, to agree to a degree of violence or force in the midst of finesse.” Alexis Jakubowicz
Lefebvre & Fils Gallery is pleased to present Tout feu Tout flamme, an unseen group show of eleven international artists around ceramic works.
Florian Bézu, Ryan Blackwell, Robin Cameron, Patricia Camet, Dewar & Gicquel, Mimosa Echard, David Gallagher, Chloé Jarry, Morgane Tschiember and Kostis Velonis, gathered by the curator Alexis Jakubowicz, prove ceramic’s relevance and persistence in contemporary art
March 19-May 31, 2014
El próximo domingo 16 de marzo, a las 13:00 hs, Función Lenguaje invita a sus amigos a un encuentro con la Grecia actual. Cuna de la civilización occidental y hoy devastada socialmente por la crisis, Grecia se presenta como un hervidero, aún invisible para nosotros, de voces y corrientes artísticas que, sin olvidar las raíces homéricas, reivindican y navegan, al modo de Ulises, en busca de una sociedad mejor.
Poesía, video arte y performance confluirán en esta cita a la que se unirán poetas españoles. Pero también la gastronomía será protagonista del encuentro: sentados a la mesa, se servirá una cabra como símbolo ancestral de la colonización en las islas (hoy de nuevo de actualidad), se degustarán otros manjares griegos y se libarán aguardientes autóctonos.
Artistas:Angela Dimitrakaki, Escritora e historiadora del arte, Phoebe Giannisi, Arquitecta, poeta y artista visual, Iris Lykourioti, Arquitecta y profesora, Eva Stefani, Politóloga, directora de cine y videoartista, Kostis Velonis Artista visual, comisario y experto en estudios culturales, María Castrejón, Filóloga y poeta.
En Función Lenguaje (c/Doctor Fourquet, 18 -Lavapiés-)
Domingo 16 de marzo. 13:00 hs
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
To continue. Notes towards a Sculpture Cycle is a research-based project inspired by a core group of works from the Nomas Foundation collection, which focuses on sculpture, organised in three chapters, each dedicated to a specific aspect of the medium. Through itineraries around the city, a public programme of lectures in collaboration with Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna, visits to artists studios and specific collections, To continue. Notes towards a Sculpture Cycle aims to build a dialogue between the present and the past, between the Foundation and the narrative texture of the city. Matter, the first episode of To continue. Notes towards a Sculpture Cycle, is inspired by the famous series of lectures held by Rudolf Wittkower at Cambridge University in 1970-71. The aim of these lectures, was to examine works on the basis of the working methods used by the artists, while also seeking out lines of continuity and rupture throughout the history of art, from the Archaic period to the present day. In a similar manner, this first episode looks at how works are made, and how their material presence determines their appearance and the way they are perceived. The solid and the void, to carve or to shape, are still the constituent elements of sculpture today – whether the artist works with traditional materials or whether he inscribes the form within a space, or even when giving shape to data, images and sounds that constitute a new and potential matter. (to continue)
Curated by Cecilia Canziani and Ilaria Gianni, assistant curators Michela Tornielli and Stefano Vittorini
Exhibition: Giorgio Andreotta Calò, Rossella Biscotti, Chiara Camoni, William Cobbing, Michael Dean, Luisa Gardini, Helena Hladilová, Oliver Laric, Else Leirvik, Nicola Pecoraro, Diego Perrone, Timur Si-Qin, Jesse Wine. References: On the occasion of the opening a rare documentary dedicated to the Italian sculptor Medardo Rosso, realised for the RAI in 1959 by Alberto Martini, historian and art critic, will be shown.
Opening Tuesday February 26, 2014 6.30 pm Nomas Foundation, Viale Somalia, 33 - Roma February 26 to April 5 | Matter April 17 - May 27 | Vision June 5 - July 25 | Scale To continue. Notes towards a Sculpture Cycle continues Nomas Foundation’s ongoing investigation on visual art’s languages, following A Theatre Cycle, 2013; A Painting Cycle, 2012; A Film Cycle, 2011; A Performance Cycle, 2010.
Sunday, February 16, 2014
Sunday, February 9, 2014
Saturday, February 8, 2014
Anse-à-Pitres, Haiti, 2012.
Late one afternoon, I was walking with a local friend in the small border town of Anse-à-Pitres, Haiti, when we reached what looked like an impromptu public square. “You see the mosaic promenade?” my friend said. “And the benches over there? We know every great city has a public square, so we decided to build one here.” In the center I saw a concrete column with rebar protruding from the top, surrounded by a spiral concrete wall.
“And all great public squares have a monument with a statue, right?” he said. I demurred, but he continued: “Everyone in town can agree about that. But whenever we discuss which historical figure should go up on that column, it turns into a fight. We can’t come to a consensus. So we’ve decided to leave it empty. One day, this person will come. And when they do, we will have a place waiting for their statue. This will bring great pride to Anse-à-Pitres.”
Thiotte, Haiti, 2012
You find examples of this typology all around the world: buildings and structures that are activated or inhabited even though their construction is not complete.  For the past several years, I’ve been collecting photographs, video and anecdotes of cases in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Mexico, the United States, Jordan, Israel, Palestine and Turkey. Instead of attempting to explain these approaches to construction or indulging in obvious generalizations, this investigation asks: How can we read these objects in a different way? This is not a study of the “creativity of the poor” or an attempt to improve design practice; my research is motivated by an impulse to produce understandings for which we may not have immediate use.
South Quito, Ecuador, 2012
Some months after I left Haiti, I was presenting my research at the International Academy of Art Palestine, in Ramallah. An artist from the older generation, whose work had given visual expression to the concept of sumud — or "perseverance" — offered a thoughtful response: “You are going to meet people who will tell you that this form of architecture is about optimism for the future. But I can tell you that in Palestine, for me, this cannot be the case. When I see rebar coming from the roofs of the buildings, I see a violent fear of the future. A fear that comes from not knowing what is being passed down from one generation to the next. Previously, we had the olive fields, and there was a rootedness to the land. But what was once a communitarian, horizontal mentality is now individualistic and vertical. No matter how hard people work, no matter how far they extend their efforts, they just go higher and higher, never touching, never making contact with those around them.”
Wadi Rum, Jordan, 2012
People often tell me the reason buildings are left unfinished is so that the occupants can avoid paying property taxes. They come rushing up after talks, excited to report that they know the answer. Perplexed that such a tax loophole could exist in a range of markedly different cultural and climatic contexts, I asked an urbanist friend in Italy what he thought. “It’s an urban legend,” he said — one that is informed and propelled by implicit racism. He pointed out that in Italy this approach to construction is almost entirely confined to the South, where a larger proportion of the population is from a migrant background. “The myth generalizes a group of people who those in power would like us to see as selfish and opportunistic.”
Last spring, I found myself in Delhi, talking with a group of young architecture students whose professors urged them to move beyond discursive dichotomies — formal/informal, legal/illegal — and to navigate by other means. We tunneled through several thought-provoking detours until one student lost patience and interjected, “When does all this nebulous talking end? When are we going to do something about this?”
There was silence in the room. After a long moment, one of the professors spoke. “Where is this fear of endlessness coming from? What might we learn when we avoid that urge to do something, and just allow the building to remain endless?
Text by JOSEPH REDWOOD-MARTINEZAuthor’s Note
Research for The Exhibition of a Necessary Incompleteness was supported by a grant from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts.
Images, video and text from this body of work were included this past fall in an exhibition at the University Art Gallery at the University of California, San Diego. This essay and slideshow are not a summary of that research but, rather, a point of entry.
1. This is variously referred to as vertical phasing, perpetual construction, or incomplete architecture.
Wednesday, February 5, 2014
Monday, February 3, 2014
The Margins of the Factory presents two recent projects by the Rotterdam-based duo Iratxe Jaio & Klaas van Gorkum that are motivated by their interest in art's relationship with labour. Each explores sculptural form and manufacturing processes from the perspective of artists who have not usually made objects. Jaio & van Gorkum undertake what are in part sociological investigations by documenting the local, marginal effects of the displacement of manufacturing industries over the last two generations with the emergence of the global market. Emerging from the artists' personal history and implicating the direct effects of their own vocation as well as work they ask of others, the projects are moreover complicit in asking what kind of industriousness brings value and what political life objects might have.
The exhibition opening features a performance by British “avant-folk” musician Nathaniel Robin Mann, developed in collaboration with Jaio & van Gorkum around the raw footage of Work in Progress and the tradition of work song. Mann interprets the Basque popular song “Oi Peio Peio” – a dialogue between a woman worker and her cruel boss, who insists that she carries on working throughout the night. First collected in Cancionero Popular Vasco in 1918, the song was popularized by singer–songwriter Mikel Laboa, founder of “Ez Dok Amairu” (“No Thirteen”), the cultural movement of Basque poets, musicians and artists whose name was a suggestion of sculptor Jorge Oteiza.
Central to Producing time in between other things (2011) is a selection of wooden objects made by retired factory worker Jos van Gorkum – Gorkum’s grandfather – which the artists documented in the homes of his relations, friends and former neighbours across the Netherlands. During this process, the artists located the original lathe on which these items had been crafted and began to teach themselves woodturning. The forms which they made as they worked at learning a hobby become the means to support the display of the original objects, presented alongside three videos and photography.
Work in Progress (2013) immerses itself in the manufacturing industry of Markina-Xemein, the rural Basque village where Jaio comes from. A video documents the mass-production of rubber car parts, following the pieces from the assembly line in a worker-owned factory to subcontracted workshops where informal workers finish them by hand. Several of these workers are employed by the artists to cast hundreds of replicas of small modernist sculptures. These are displayed on mass-produced shelving to evoke the "Chalk Laboratory" of Basque sculptor Jorge Oteiza, a fierce critic of the commodification of art.
Curators: Iratxe Jaio & Klaas van Gorkum, 'The Margins of the Factory', ADN Platform, Sant Cugat del Vallès, Barcelona, Spain, 25 January–30 April 2014.
Sunday, January 26, 2014
Friday, January 3, 2014
Alfred Jarry, Autre Portrait de Monsieur Ubu
Photomechanical reproduction of a drawing by Jarry for Ubu Roi, Drame en cinq Actes en prose. Restitué en son intégrité tel qu'il a été représenté par les marionnettes du Théâtre des Phynances en 1888
Thursday, December 26, 2013
Do not demand of politics that it restore the “rights” of the individual, as philosophy has defined them. The individual is the product of power. What is needed is to “de-individualize’ by means of multiplication and displacement, diverse combinations. The group must not be the organic bond uniting hierarchized individuals, but a constant generation of de-individualization. Michel Foucault, Preface to Anti-Oedipus.
In the past few weeks I have returned again and again to the idea of "negative solidarity" that I outlined on this blog. I found myself mentally bookmarking news reports and articles that seem to be evidence of hostility to any collective organization for wages or benefits, not to mention larger or more structural transformations. The affect of ressentiment, the distinct sense that someone somewhere was benefiting at your expense, seemed prevalent. (Of course the "someones" in this situation are always those on social welfare programs, state employees, etc., never capitalists, investors, etc.) However, negative solidarity risked having all of the characteristics of what Althusser called a "descriptive theory," a sophisticated sounding recasting of what one already knows and thinks. The dangers of descriptive theories is that they provide a moment of recognition, ("That is it, dude; totally,")but no way to move forward. So the question which I returned to again, is how to account for the genesis and constitution of negative solidarity, how to move beyond description. This is a question of socio-political theory, but it is a necessary precondition of political action as well. Negative Solidarity is in that sense another name to the barrier of any politics whatsoever.
It is perhaps for this reason that I only had to read a few sentences describing Jennifer Silva's Coming Up Short: Working Class Adulthood in an Age of Uncertainty before I decided to buy it. I read it eagerly, starting it on the plane over Thanksgiving and finishing it during the brief break between the end of classes and the onslaught of grading.
Silva's certain concern, her central thesis, is that the current economic transformations, which could be broadly described as a combination of neoliberalism and austerity, have produced a new adulthood, a new subjectivity, that is individualized, psychologized, and therapeutic. As Silva writes,
"At its core, this emerging working-class adult self is characterized by low expectations of work, wariness toward romantic commitment widespread of social institutions, profound isolation from others, and an overriding focus on their emotions and psychic health. Rather than turn to politics to address the obstacles standing in the way of a secure adult life, the majority of the men and women I interview crafted deeply personal coming of age stories, grounding their adult identities in recovering from their painful pasts--whether addition childhood abuse, family trauma, or abandonment and forging an emancipated, transformed and adult self."
Drawing from a series of interviews of young working class individuals in Richmond, Virginia and Lowell, Massachusetts, Silva paints a familiar picture of lives that go from school, to military, to community college, and sometimes back home, passing in and through these institutions without every constituting the traditional linear arrow of familial home, school, work, marriage. etc. As Silva argues the linear narrative of life is then constructed not in terms of career, marriage, and family, but in terms of past trauma and present victory. As Silva argues,
"I make sense of the phenomenon of the phenomenon of therapeutic adulthood through the concept of the mood economy. I argue that working-class men and women inhabit a social world in which the legitimacy and dignity due adults are purchased not with traditional currencies such as work or marriage but instead through the ability to organize their difficult emotions into a narrative of self-transformation."
On this reading a mood economy would offer a different sense of validation and compensation, one that fills the void that is left not only from the markers of progress on the standard middle class biography ("time's arrow" in Sennett's sense) but from monetary compensation in general. In place of the standard biography of job, marriage, and children, or even the quantitative accumulation of wealth, there is a biography which charts its victories and defeats on a much more intimate scale, on overcoming addiction, abuse, or simply the ever important "taking responsibility" for oneself and one's actions. What is interesting about Silva's book is that she presents this narrative less as some kind of new found concern with inner life, with all of its positive valuations, than as an isolation, people turning away from politics, community, and love, turning into the infinite morass of their feelings and history.
In this way Silva's "mood economy" is similar to a particular articulation of what I have called, following Frédéric Lordon an "Affective economy." As Lordon argues one of the primary goals of the organization of affect and the imagination, these two things never being too far apart for a Spinozist, at least in a hierarchal society, is the simultaneous "elevation" of the puny objects and goals left to the majority, the workers in capitalism, and the denigration of any systemic change as impossible. As Lordon argues inCapitalisme, Désir, et Servitude:
"Symbolic violence consists then properly speaking in the production of a double imaginary, the imaginary of fulfillment, which makes the humble joys to which the dominated are assigned appear sufficient, and the imaginary of powerlessness, which convince them to renounce any greater ones to which they might aspire. ‘For whatever man imagines he cannot do, he necessarily imagines; and he is so disposed by this imagination that he really cannot do what he imagines he cannot do’ (EIIIDXXVIII) Here is the passionate mechanism for converting designation into self-designation put to work by the (social) imaginary of powerlessness."
Read along these lines Silva's "mood economy" offers an even more meager reward than even the consumer society. No longer is the promise one of buying things the ultimate capture of desire, compensating for a life sold away in labor, but the promise of "self-help, of organizing one's hopes and desires. In austerity there is no longer the promise of endless accumulation, but endless introspection--which comes much cheaper. An insipid spiritualism supplants a decadent materialism. It just so happens that the central watchword of this spiritualism is responsibility, the subject it produces is infinitely responsible for every lost job, for debt, for a tattered world of community and relations. The self-help subject is the perfect subject of a contemporary labor situation we demands responsibility and flexibility.
In this way Silva's conception of a "mood economy" is in some sense similar to Rob Horning's analysis of the virtual compensations of social media, the retweets, likes, and reblogs that give us a sense of validation. In each case "economy" or "compensation" functions as a kind of consolation prize, these economies function to paper over the decline of real wages and actual connections with others. Our rewards get smaller, and with each spiral inward the idea of changing the system becomes harder and harder to imagine.
As much as Silva's book could be used to chart a kind of psychic economy of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall, a kind of diminishing returns of psychic investments, its focus on interviews, on the narratives individuals construct of their own lives, also sheds light on contemporary politics. The idea that social welfare damages responsibility, that it encourages the laziness of the unemployed, has been been around at least since Reagan's "welfare queen" and shows no sign of waining as a powerful political idea (or ideology). The idea that one should be held responsible and accountable for the loss of their job would seem to be absurd, especially after the current recession. However, Silva's analysis suggests that the calls for "personal responsibility" from elected leaders resonate with the personal narratives of responsibility being constructed in front of television sets and in the pages of the latest self-help bestseller. As Yves Citton argues in his book Mythocratie, political myths, the narratives of nation and party, can only function, can only take hold, if they in some sense capture and resonate with the narratives through which individuals make sense of their own lives (and vice versa). A population turned inward, turned towards the narratives of past trauma and present responsibility, will thus be more receptive to a politics and economics of personal responsibility, no matter how economically incoherent it is.
Thus, to conclude by invoking the epigraph above, over thirty years ago Deleuze and Guattari wrote Anti-Oedipus, critiquing the conservative individualism at the heart of psychoanalysis, perhaps it is now necessary to write the necessary follow-up, Anti-Oprah. Of course the point is not Oprah, or any specific guru, but the entire tendency to turn ever inwards in moments of crisis, constructing our defeats and victories in the interior space of feelings and narrative. That space is a cage.
text by Jason Read
Saturday, December 21, 2013
This "rhyton," a drinking cup, is formed of two animals' heads: the left half a ram and the right half of a donkey. Double-faced vases like this one evoked characteristics viewed as polar opposites. Rams were prized for religious sacrifices, while donkeys, symbols of potent sexuality, were never sacrificed because their flesh was too tough. Around the neck of the cub is a scene of satyrs cavorting, circa 450 BC.
Friday, December 13, 2013
A preview of an answer that might be forthcoming
Shortly after Alien Phenomenology was publsihed, Darius Kazemi asked: what's the difference between carpentry and art? Carpentry, for the record, is my name for the philosophical practice of making things, of which articles and books are but one example. I borrowed and expanded the term from the ordinary sense of woodcraft and adapted from Graham Harman and Alphonso Lingis, who use it to refer to the way things mold one another.
Darius wondered, why distinguish between the different uses of things? Isn't this just a commission of the intentional fallacy? These are reasonable questions.
As it happens, I have an unpublished and probably unfinished paper that answers this question, and which includes a good measure of carpentry in so doing. But after a back and forth on Twitter on this topic, I figured maybe I should offer a preview of that answer since it's been almost a year since I wrote the paper and carpentered the illustrations, and I still haven't done anything with them.
I don't expect anybody will be satisfied with these answers yet, but I offer them as a preview of more to come:
Anytime art comes up we have a problem, because the twentieth century made it such that anything can be art, whether you or I like it or not. So in that sense, I guess Darius is right.
Carpentry is a perspective on creative work that asks philosophical questions. Or differently put, carpentry is what you call it when matter (including art, why not) is used (at least) but especially fashioned for philosophical use.
Carpentry is the process of making things that help philosophers (which is just to say, lovers of wisdom) pursue arguments and questions, not just illustrations of ideas that "really" live in the discursive realm.
Carpentry it's not "just" art because it participates in the practice of philosophy, just like a surgeon's scalpel isn't art because it participates in the practice of medicine.
The above notwithstanding, carpentry surely also has other uses and interpretations beyond the ones I originally conceived.
Text by Ian Bogost, March 19, 2013